For us, the decision to have a Costa Rica wedding was an easy one. It was Max’s second home and the combination of beach and lush jungle made it a perfect setting for our rustic laid back affair. We loved sharing our love for travel and our love for Costa Rica with friends and family who traveled thousands of miles to see us tie the knot in December 2015 at our Costa Rica destination wedding.
Costa Rica Wedding Charm
We aren’t the only ones smitten by Costa Rica’s charm. These days, more and more couples are choosing to forego norms and traditions. They embrace the destination wedding trend by saying their “I Do’s” in one of the happiest places on earth (that’s Costa Rica in case you didn’t know).
Our Costa Rica Destination Wedding
We took 12-months to plan our wedding in Costa Rica. Everything has been carefully researched and organized from the officiant to decor, catering, music and everything in between! We put on quite the affair and entertained over 40 family members and guests that traveled to Costa Rica from overseas. Additionally, there are also 30-40 locals that joined in the celebrations. Every one of our guests pitched in and helped us with the finishing touches. Although, everything didn’t go perfectly (I’m not sure that weddings ever do), it really was a beautiful day and one that we wouldn’t have traded it for anything!
Check Out Our Featured Video
There is no denying it. Costa Rica is an amazing location for a destination wedding! Costa Rica not only offers a spectacular beach/jungle setting, but it also makes for an amazing trip for you and your guests.
If you are considering a Costa Rica destination wedding for your upcoming nuptials, we hope that our advice and tips can help make the planning process and a lot less daunting! Here is everything you need to know about getting married in Costa Rica.
Your Marriage Will Be Legal In Your Home Country
Unlike a lot of other popular destination wedding locations, Costa Rica actually allows you to have a civil wedding ceremony that will be legal in your home country. In fact, the legalities of getting married in Costa Rica are pretty simple and straightforward. There are only a few requirements:
- Weddings in Costa Rica must be officiated by a lawyer.
- You must provide copies of your passports, birth certificates, information about previous marriages (if applicable), and the names of your parents.
- You will need 2 witnesses who are not your family. Your witnesses will be required to provide their passports/IDs to your officiant prior to the ceremony.
No blood tests, no police checks, no additional documents or hassle which can help keep your Costa Rica wedding cost budget-friendly.
After the ceremony, the lawyer will register your marriage with Costa Rica’s National Registry, which will issue an official marriage certificate. Expect this process to take around 4-6 weeks (ours took 5).
To be legally recognized in your home country, your Costa Rican marriage certificate must then be:
- Translated into English by an official translator
- Authenticated by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Authenticated by your Embassy in Costa Rica
Your lawyer should be able to organize all the paperwork for you. This should take another week or so. Expect your lawyer fees, marriage registration and all other fees. Making your wedding legal should cost you anywhere between USD $1,500-2,000.
The lawyer that officiated our wedding was a friend of the family. But, during our research, we came across Costa Rica Marriage Officiants. It’s a great website that can help you find your own Costa Rican officiant.
There Are Lots Of Beautiful Costa Rica Wedding Venues
Now that you have the confidence that weddings in Costa Rica are possible, let us inspire you with some beautiful settings that can serve as backdrops to Costa Rica weddings.
You can plan an extravagant luxury affair with chandeliers and white linens. Or, you can choose to blend in with nature and go with a rustic theme that incorporates the surroundings into your wedding theme.
There are so many options to choose from when it comes to Costa Rica wedding venues. You can get married on the beach, in the rainforest or even in the mountains. Just keep in mind that location may depend on the season. Check out our guide to the best time to go to Costa Rica to help you find the best time of the year for your Costa Rica wedding!
Costa Rica All-Inclusive Wedding
The following is a selection of hotels/resorts that are popular among brides and grooms looking to tie the knot in Costa Rica. The majority of Costa Rica’s big hotels and resorts are located in Guanacaste, but there are some scattered around other parts of the country.
- Riu Palace, Guanacaste
- Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa, Guanacaste
- Barcelo Langosta Beach, Guanacaste
- JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa, Guanacaste
- Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barcelo, Guanacaste
- Westin Conchal, Guanacaste
- Dreams Las Mareas, El Jobo
- Mariposa Hotel, Manuel Antonio
- Zephyr Palace, Jaco
Without a doubt, getting married at one of these establishments may increase your Costa Rica wedding cost. But, their Costa Rica wedding package prices will include a wedding planner, officiant, decor, sometimes catering. Most importantly, you’ll have an absolutely fuss-free experience when you chose to go with a Costa Rica all inclusive wedding.
If you would like to get married at one of the above mentioned resorts, plan to spend at least $15-20K on the affair. Be prepared to pay North American prices for food, decor, cake and many other elements of the wedding.
Costa Rica Boutique Hotel Wedding
If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, plenty of smaller more boutique hotels will be happy to play host to Costa Rica weddings. In many cases, they will be able to provide or arrange catering, accommodation and some decor. This will give you the opportunity to put a bit more of “you” into the setup and the day itself.
There are lots of boutique hotels that offer wedding services in Costa Rica. While we are sure that many do a fantastic job, there are a couple that we would recommend from first-hand experience.
Drift Away Eco Lodge, Playa Avellanas, Guanacaste
If you are new to our website, you might not have heard this yet. But, Drift Away Eco Lodge is actually our own eco-lodge in Costa Rica. We purchased the hotel back in December 2017 and have turned it into a beautiful eco-lodge. It can now host up to 32 people and is perfectly suited for a small intimate destination wedding.
Costa Rica holds a special place in our hearts and Drift Away Eco Lodge is located steps away from where we had our own Costa Rica wedding. So, we know a thing or two about hosting an amazing wedding celebration in the area.
Staff at our hotel work with the best wedding planners, photographers, videographers, caterers and other suppliers. It’s our job to ensure that you get the best value and best service on your special day. As long as you book the entire hotel for the duration of the celebration, there will be no additional venue fees!
Costa Verde Hotel, Manuel Antonio
Having recently attended a beautiful wedding at Costa Verde Hotel, we have now seen first hand what a small hotel wedding can look like at Costa Verde Hotel near Manuel Antonio National Park. The verdict? It’s BEAUTIFUL!
The iconic hotel seems to perfectly blend in with the surroundings. It gives a feeling like you really are staying in the jungle. Parts of the hotel, like the helipad in front of the Costa Verde II and the reception hall overlooking the Pacific Ocean, have been built specifically to provide a unique environment for wedding receptions.
We loved their focus on recycling throughout the premises. Rainwater is used for laundry services and that solar energy is used to heat up the water. All furniture at Costa Verde is made in their own wood shop (which you can visit during your stay there). They use the naturally downed trees from the region and all throughout the grounds. Moreover, they thousands of recycled bottles are used as lighting fixtures.
It is definitely one of the most unique, and beautiful accommodations we have stayed at in our travels. In our opinion, Costa Verde an ideal destination for a destination wedding in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica Villa or Private Home Wedding
For the ultimate budget-friendly option, many couples choose to rent a large villa or a private house and use it as the setting for the ceremony/reception. While this does give you the most authentic experience and the opportunity to personalize your day instead of going with a cookie-cutter resort option, it also comes with a LOT of work and stress versus a venue that offers Costa Rica wedding package prices. You’ll have to hire all the vendors including a wedding planner to help you pull the day together.
If you want to look into this option, this is a great list of tried and tested private home/villa rentals as recommended by couples who had a Costa Rica destination wedding.
Airbnb is another great alternative since a lot of large Costa Rican homes often come with a fairly large property that would be more than suitable to serve as Costa Rica wedding venues.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and get up to $35 off your first stay.
We went with the cheapest venue alternative – a private home (sans the wedding planner), and trust us when we say, coordinating all the vendors, making all the arrangements and setting everything up for our wedding day was incredibly hard and stressful. It’s not an option that we would recommend to others!
Costa Rica Wedding Photographers Are Very Talented
Once you have decided on your Costa Rica wedding venues, choosing a wedding photographer should be next on your list. Luckily, having a Costa Rica destination wedding doesn’t mean you have to pay an arm and a leg to fly your chosen wedding photographer to Costa Rica.
The country boasts an amazing selection of photographers that specialize in the Costa Rica wedding sector. But keep in mind that Costa Rica’s wedding industry is still rather small, so while the options are great, they are somewhat limited, so booking as far in advance as possible is a must!
We narrowed down the list of Costa Rica Wedding Photographers to our top choices. Most photographers don’t mind traveling outside of their local area to cover weddings and events. They are ranked below in order of our preference:
- Madison Baltodano (our amazing photographer)
- Toh Goutennoire
- A Brit and a Blonde
- Jonathan Yonkers
- Jonathan Cooley
We were absolutely over the moon with the photos that Madison took on our big day. She captured the emotions, the setting, and the day with absolute perfection and her services were really well priced! Check them out here.
You can find more Costa Rican Photographers listed HERE. Prices for an 8-hour package will range from $1,200 to $4,700.
Costa Rica Wedding Videography
If you are looking to have your wedding captured on video, your options are somewhat limited. A few of the photographers listed above, also offer Costa Rica wedding videography services, but rates are high and their availability is limited.
If you are planning a destination wedding in Costa Rica and are looking for an affordable wedding videographer, drop us an email and we’ll try to help. Over the last few years, we have offered wedding videography services in Costa Rica to a few couples and have heard nothing but great feedback.
Check out a sample of our work below:
Hiring a Wedding Planner is Probably a Good Idea
Unless you are planning a Costa Rica all inclusive wedding that offers wedding planning services, we definitely suggest that you hire a wedding planner or at least a day of coordinator to help you bring your dream wedding to life.
Take it from someone who chose to DIY and faced a million and one problems, trust us, you don’t want to do it all yourself!
Here are some great wedding coordinators/planners that I considered, but unfortunately didn’t end up hiring. (In hindsight, hiring one of these planners would’ve probably made our day a LOT less stressful.) As with photographers, wedding planners service all of Costa Rica and aren’t limited to their local area.
- Fourteen Weddings, available November through April and can help plan from start to finish
- Four Winds Weddings, provides coordination, design, floral services, and event rentals
- Our Costa Rica Wedding, offers packages for weddings of any size – from just the couple up through a large destination wedding
- Perennial Weddings, helps design, implement, and secure vendors for weddings
- Tropical Occasions, have produced over 1000 events in Costa Rica and have a full list of vetted vendors
Wedding Planning/Coordination services start at $1,000 and go up from there depending on the level of the planner’s involvement pre and during the event.
Reception/Ceremony Set Up Can Be Pricey
If your chosen Costa Rica wedding venues do not include tables, chairs, table settings, and other decors, getting everything arranged for your big day can be pricey. There are only 5 big furniture and event rental businesses in Costa Rica:
- Eventos Artesanos, serves Guanacaste
- Cabo Luna Event Rentals, serves Guanacaste
- Eventos Boaricea, serves Guanacaste
- Costa Mesa, serves Guanacaste
…and they make sure to charge destination wedding prices. If you are going to need to set up your own ceremony/reception, you are looking at $1,500-$2,000 in rental fees. And don’t forget, depending on the location of your wedding venue the delivery fees can be upwards of $500-1,000. (We were quoted $1,000 for delivery on New Year’s Eve – one of the main reasons why we ended up building/buying our own tables/chairs/etc)
The first 3 suppliers on the list are also the top choices for most wedding planners in Costa Rica, so their inventory goes fast and needs to be booked well in advance.
Other Vendors Are Few And Far Between
Catering, hair, makeup, flowers, cake are all things that you will likely need to add to your Costa Rica wedding cost if you are thinking of going with a DIY/private home/villa type of wedding.
These vendors were really hard to find and their prices were anything but competitive. We didn’t end up using any of these for our wedding and instead hired friends of the family to take care of our catering, cake and hair needs.
Caterers & Cakes
- Soma Chefs, serves Santa Teresa Area, offers catering and private chef services
- Ono Cuisine, serves all of Costa Rica, offers private chef services and catering
- Costa Rica Catering, serves Guanacaste, offers cake services and catering
- Victoria Zoch Cakes, serves Guanacaste, makes cakes and other dessert items
- German Bakery, serves Guanacaste, makes special occasion cakes
You won’t find a cake for less than $200 and a caterer willing to put together a menu for less than $80-$100/person.
Hair & Make-Up
- Luna Bella Makeup & Hair serves all of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Hair serves all of Costa Rica
Hair & Make-Up quotes started at $120/person.
- Eventos Artesanos, serves Guanacaste
- Art Flower, serves Guanacaste
- Floristeria Cristal, serves Guanacaste
Flower arrangements were quoted starting from $60 for each bridal bouquet.
You Can Celebrate Your Wedding Well Past Your Wedding Day
One of our favourite things about getting married in Costa Rica was the fact that for most of our friends and family this wasn’t just a 1-day event, it was a week-long vacation. One of the biggest complaints that we heard from other married couples was that they didn’t get a chance to hang out with their friends and family on their wedding day.
This couldn’t have been farther away from the truth during our Costa Rican wedding. We loved hanging out with our friends and family after the wedding. We arranged group outings to the local fiestas, we held a Thank You brunch where we got a chance to once again thank our guests for sharing our special day with us, and we even traveled around Costa Rica and Nicaragua with some of our friends a few days after the wedding. It was a wedding celebration and an amazing vacation all in one!
With no shortage of activities to do in Costa Rica, you too can extend your wedding celebration far beyond your Wedding Day. Hang out on the beach, go horseback riding, zip-lining, go on a day cruise or check out a rainforest or a national park.
Experiencing the beauty of Costa Rica with your friends and family is guaranteed to make your wedding that much more memorable and special. You can’t get this stuff back home!
Your Honeymoon Can Start Where Your Wedding Day Ended
Do you know what is more magical than a wedding in Costa Rica? Honeymooning in Costa Rica! Dozens of beautiful honeymoon worthy destinations are going to be within a quick drive away from your wedding location. No additional flights, no need to repack, or plan another trip. Your honeymoon can begin as soon as you want!
Total Costa Rica Wedding Cost
Your Costa Rica wedding cost can range dramatically.
To get started, it’s important to determine your budget, approximately how many people will be attending your wedding, and your Costa Rican wedding style. As we mentioned, an all-inclusive venue will typically be more fuss-free than a DIY wedding like our own but the cost usually reflects that.
However, on average a Costa Rican wedding is much more affordable than one held in North America. In Costa Rica, a wedding typically hovers around $200-$400USD per person while in the States basic weddings average a total of $33,000 USD.
Our DIY Costa Rican wedding cost us only $11,000, but as mentioned before it came with a lot of hard work and a lot of stress. We think that a budget of $15,000-20,000 for a 40-50 person wedding is the sweet spot for someone looking for an enjoyable and down to earth wedding celebration in Costa Rica.
* Unless otherwise stated, all photos in this post were taken by our talented photographer, Madison Baltodano.
BEFORE YOU GO: Don’t forget travel insurance!
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance, especially in a country like Costa Rica. Whether you just plan to hang out on the beach, do a little bit of hiking, or go extreme (think surfing, scuba diving, or zip-lining), being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. We learned about the importance of travel insurance the hard way and now we never travel without coverage.
Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads.
Would you choose to get married in Costa Rica? What would your dream wedding look like?